City sends EDA bill to county

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 8, 2000

The day after a heated supervisors’ debate over Thompson School, many alumni were still stung by the county’s decision to give away their alma mater.

Supervisors voted 3-2 Monday against giving Head Start provider AJFC Community Action Agency a 50-year lease to the property, instead deciding to deed the school to the agency. This voted marked the third time in recent weeks the board has discussed the issue.

&uot;We’re being taken advantage of,&uot; said the Rev. James Stokes, who described himself as a civil rights activist. &uot;As long as we are in the minority on the governing boards, we are treated like minorities.&uot;

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The school, which has been described as &uot;a jewel&uot; to the black community, was a black school prior to integration.

&uot;It’s something we feel very sincere about,&uot;&160;said Willie Minor, a graduate of Thompson’s first class in 1954. &uot;I know I cherish the school.&uot;

Alumni had wanted supervisors to give AJFC a long-term lease to Thompson so they could be assured taxpayers’ ownership of Thompson and access to the property.

But since the the board did not take that action, AJFC officials agreed during an informal meeting Monday, they would either sub deed or sublease the school’s band room, gym and auditorium to the alumni.

&uot;We’re really not satisfied, but at least we got something out of the deal,&uot; said Eva Dunkley, first vice chairman of the Thompson Era Reunion.

&uot;It’s not exactly what we wanted but a lot of times you don’t get exactly what you want,&uot; alumnus Willie Minor said.

State Rep. Phillip West, a Thompson alumnus, also said many people are not happy with the county’s decision.

&uot;I haven’t spoken to anyone whose 100 percent happy,&uot; he said.

Many people believed if the alumni at Natchez High had made the same request of the county board, the vote would have gone differently, West said.

&uot;The board would have voted to go along with a long-term lease,&uot; he said. &uot;The same thing could have been accomplished with a long-term lease as with ownership.&uot;

AJFC officials told the county they need proof of their future with the building to get grant funding. Lamar Braxton, CEO of AJFC, told the county board either a deed or lease would work, but he preferred a deed.

West has also been helping the alumni gain a non-profit status for the SVT School Era Reunion. West said he is requested paperwork to obtain non-profit status and the process should be completed in about a week.

West said the alumni have talked about this for about six years.

They began working on it recently after learning AJFC was making backup plans to move out of the building.